A recurring theme in the Muslims’s conversions to Christianity, as documented by Uwe Siemon-Netto, is that individual Muslims are saying that they have had dreams about Jesus, who, in turn, directs them to the Bible and to a Bible-believing church.
Charismatics would have no problem with this, but we Lutherans (who are getting a lot of these Muslims) tend to be skeptical about such private visions, insisting that it is by means of the Word and the Sacraments that God comes to us. But Siemon-Netto, quoting another Lutheran theologian, says that these visions of Jesus are not self-contained but follow the pattern of those in Acts (e.g., that of Saul of Tarsus and Cornelius), whose visions sent them to someone who would baptize them and teach them the Word of God.
What do you think about all of this?
From Uwe Siemon-Netto, Where Muslim Dreams May Lead, Quadrant Magazine, via LinkedIn:
The most difficult part of this tale of two faiths in Europe is to relate what prompts thousands of Muslims on every continent to risk being murdered or executed as apostates by changing their religion. It is particularly difficult for me as a confessional Lutheran. We are a hard-nosed bunch. We don’t like to dabble in supernatural phenomena. We need to be “convicted by Holy Scriptures and plain reason”, to paraphrase Martin Luther’s “Here I stand” speech before the Imperial Diet of Worms in 1521. We don’t “do dreams”, as the Americans say. But now I must discuss Muslim dreams here, and leave it to my readers to question my state of mind.
Soon after I joined United Press International (UPI) as religious affairs editor 15 years ago, I was confronted with a fact Nabeel Qureshi a U.S. physician of Pakistani ancestry, himself a noted convert to Christianity, would later describe thus: “Dreams are the only means by which the average Muslim expects to hear directly from God.” One of my first UPI stories I received from the leader of a conservative Presbyterian denomination in Pakistan who had started a Bible school at the Afghan border at the time when Taliban were still in Power in Kabul.
Suddenly there appeared imams of mosques in Afghanistan, which was still run by the Taliban then. Having travelled for hundreds of kilometres, they now asked to be catechised because they wanted to turn their congregations into de facto Christian churches. Like Lutherans, Calvinists are very wary of supernatural events. But when I asked this Pakistani Presbyterian what had prompted these imams to come to his Bible school, he said: “Dreams! Christ had appeared to them in their sleep and instructed them to come here to hear the truth.”
Next I heard of similar episodes from a Lutheran theologian whom imams visited through his back door in the middle of the night in Egypt for the same purposes; I heard it from a Catholic missionary who had worked in Algeria, from a Baptist whose surprise visitors told him that Christ had appeared to them in their tents in Saudi Arabia. An Anglican priest spoke of hundreds of Persian women attending secret Bible studies in Tehran following dreams. Pastor Gottfried Martens in Berlin estimated that at least two-thirds of his Persian and Afghan converts had followed the instructions of a “figure of light” identifying himself as the Jesus of the Christian Bible and not the “Isa” of the Koran. Sister Rosamarie, Berlin deaconess, reported the same.
In the U.S. state of Colorado, Pastor George Naeem, a physician and former Coptic priest from Egypt is conducting Bible study classes and theology courses in Arabic via short-wave radio and the Internet with thousands of students on every continent. “Virtually all came following dreams,” he reported, saying his own denomination, the conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod was very unhappy with him saying this. “They think this is unbiblical. But then how unbiblical is it to report that large numbers of Muslims are being sent on the Damascus Road (Acts 9)?”
Prof. Thomas Schirrmacher, the theologian and sociologist of religion from Bonn, said tongue-in-cheek the pattern of all these conversions suggested that God upheld Lutheran rules: “God sticks to Reformation doctrine, which says that faith comes by receiving the Word through Scripture and preaching. In these dreams, Jesus never engages in hocus-pocus, but simply sends these people to where the Word is faithfully proclaimed.”